Nikita Sud wins GCRF grant to explore land use and land sharing in India

Congratulations to Nikita Sud, who has won a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) grant for a project exploring the multiple ways in which people engage with land in India and the possibilities for shared use.

Professor Sud is Principal Investigator on the project, titled ‘Exploring a Sharing Society: Land and Sustainability in India’. The Co-investigators are Nayanika Mathur, Associate Professor in the Anthropology of South Asia at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, and Mallica Kumbera Landrus, Keeper of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum.

The project will draw on Professor Sud’s forthcoming book, Unfixed Land, which is to be published by Oxford University Press.

‘It aims to put the findings of that book on the "many lives" of land in conversation with the work of scholars across disciplines, as well as with activists, politicians, lawyers, writers, artists and others who engage with land creatively but do not necessarily speak to each other,’ Professor Sud said.

In the last decade, 50 million hectares of land have been ‘grabbed’ for urban expansion, industry, infrastructure and mining in the South. Of these, 5 million hectares are in India.

The project will work with partners who lead, advocate for and document peoples’ movements against this land grab and who seek more equitable, sustainable land use. These various groups understand land in multiple ways: as a base for growth, but also as more than individualised property – as collective history, memory, and people's connection to the earth.

The project develops this multidimensional engagement with land academically, and then delves into its practical implications for sustainability.

Among planned events are an impact-oriented workshop which will consider whether ‘multidimensional land’ can be the building block for a ‘sharing society’ of resource use. This will draw on the idea of the ‘sharing economy’, in which users have temporary access to assets with potential capacity, along the lines of Uber and AirBnB. The workshop will investigate whether multidimensional land can be shared among stakeholders who are invested in its use and preservation.

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.